The story I want to tell

I’ve been writing lately. This is a minor miracle in itself, because years of an anxiety disorder left me with a fear of failure so inhibiting that I’d rather hide under a duvet than even attempt writing a sentence that might go awry. But I had treatment, I wrote a hundred haiku as part of the therapy, and somewhere in the middle I realised that, all those years ago, I didn’t just start telling stories as an escape from things that I found painful. I started telling stories because I just loved imagining things, and I enjoyed bringing things to life inside my head, and I enjoyed finding the right words to describe them.

At the moment, rediscovering that is a delight so simple it’s almost hard to believe. I actually enjoy writing. Long may it last.

The story that I’ve been writing this month is one that’s been with me for quite a long time. I had the idea for it, oh, way back in 2007, 2008? It started flowing from my head to my hands, it had its own momentum. I started writing, wrote twelve pages, and then my computer crashed and I rewrote pretty much the entire damn thing from memory.

The story is almost unrecognisable from what it was then – it’s grown and changed so much, and the direction I thought it was going to go in just isn’t relevant now. I’ve struggled with how to distil these ideas into a book, not just a tour around a fiction landscape with its made-up mythologies and politics. I actively stopped writing it because I knew it wasn’t ready to be written – which is a bloody weird thing to have to say, but hopefully some of you will know what I mean. I couldn’t force a shape onto it, because it would have been the wrong shape. I had to wait for the eureka moment – or line of eureka dominoes, as it were. It’s taken years, it’s taken talking through ideas and concepts, it’s taken getting frustrated with my inability to write it and my inability to make it sound like the really fun story that I want it to be, both to write and to read.

This week, I was talking about it with my boyfriend, and he posed the very pertinent question: “Why do you want to write this one? Of all the stories you have notes for, what is it about this one that you keep going back to?”

He has a very valid point. I have a lot of stories that I could write. I have a lot of ideas I’d love to give time to.

This one has been refined and realigned so many times, which was a frustration in itself. Its working title, “Passion”, is a word that doesn’t fit in the slightest because it’s not a love story. It’s just a word that had the right sounds in it.

But it’s a concept that’s pretty much the point of this missive. This is a story that I love writing. My heroine is a delight to me. And, even though the actual plot has taken years to get right, it’s always been a story that I want to tell. There’s no real logical reason other than that. I want it to happen. That’s why I’m writing it. There are other stories that I want to tell, but this is the one that I want to tell first, that I want to tell now. And that’s what matters, that’s what gives it momentum.

Existentialism is a flawed philosophy in many ways, but its focus on action rather than thought is one that I often take a lot of comfort in. So at the moment I’m celebrating the fact that my actions are making more words – and I’m not worrying whether they’re the right words. I’m writing and I’m not editing as I go, I’m getting it out there and letting it grow. (Ah, poetry.) I’m embracing the feeling because it’s been so rare for me – and I am very much hoping that it will last.

What’s the story that you want to tell? Whatever it is, I hope you find the way to tell it.


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